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Can I refuse to take a drug test at work?

When an employee is asked to take a drug test, whether it be for-cause or random, does the employee have the right to refuse?

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What happens if you’re asked to take a drug test at work … and you refuse? Stratus.hr’s safety expert, Joey Eastwood, has the details in this video.

An accident just occurred at work and now your employer is forcing everyone involved to take a drug test. You weren’t directly involved in the accident and you don’t really want to do it because it feels like an invasion of privacy. But can you flat-out refuse?

As the employee, the answer is yes! You can refuse to take a drug test, just like you can refuse to sign a written warning. However, if you refuse to take a drug test for anything within the company’s drug testing policy (for cause, due to an accident, or per a random testing policy), you may be fired, regardless of why you were being asked to take the test.

If you are terminated because you refuse to take a drug test, this may make you ineligible to file a claim for unemployment benefits. Also, if you refuse a pre-employment drug test, the employer can refuse to hire you, even if you are the most qualified candidate.

In other words, the employer has the right to implement a drug testing policy and, in most situations, has final say regarding what happens when you don’t take the test as requested.

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Employer advice for employees refusing to take a drug test

If you anticipate that an employee may refuse to either take a drug test or sign a written warning, be sure to have a witness available. Document what the refusal is (and why), date it, and include both the witness and your signatures.

Also, be sure that your company policy abides by local, state, and federal laws. For help with this, please contact our Stratus.hr experts at HR@stratus.hr.

If your company is in a state that has legalized marijuana and you’re not sure how this might affect employees or the workplace, please see Legalized Marijuana: Can Employers Fire for Impairment. For answers to your specific situation, please contact our Stratus.hr experts at HR@stratus.hr.

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